Welcome to the Thyroid Rollercoaster Ride

Our thyroid, this small butterfly shaped gland weighing less than 2 filled chocolate balls secretes hormones that play a role in all body cells and regulate the body metabolism.

Talk about pressure!

When this small little gland malfunctions (this can happen due to a variety of factors) normal body function slowly start to change and without looking unwell or ill getting through a normal day starts to be struggle. “Nothing seems wrong, but nothing feels right” – this is the way a friend of mine summed it up and I couldn’t agree more. To Google more about thyroid and thyroid health opens a Pandora’s box of websites links, articles and just browsing through them can be a mammoth undertaking. Underactive thyroid symptoms become monotonous in all these links and pages with weight gain, low energy levels, depression, hair loss, impaired memory and skin that resembles that of a dead lizard somewhere in a dry dessert – reading through the list sure makes all hope walk out the back door. Never mind the opinions from ‘friends’ and family:

“You should exercise more”

“Just cut down on what you eat”

“How can you always feel tired?”

“Stop with your negative thoughts, just think of something good”

“There is not such thing as crying without reason”

This list can go on and on and on…

But they don’t get it, how could they, you can’t even explain it yourself and the frustration of that makes you want to pull out the last of the hair that didn’t already fall out in the shower this morning. The mind starts to wander – “How smooth is the back of my head? Will it look okay when I finally go bald? Can I pull off the Vin Diesel hair look as a woman? O heaven, is it too late to start an extensive hat collection? Maybe I should just become a non-Catholic nun – that way the hair loss and all those extra flabby bits are all covered by the nun tunic. Remember that movie where Whoopi played a nun? Why on earth can’t I remember the movie’s name?” ….. and then you start to hum “I will follow him” whilst trying to get your mind around what you were doing or how fast the last two hours have gone by.

Finding the right healthcare professional and medication is a whole different story (and a post dedicated on this journey is sure needed). Once again, the different meds and the guidance on when and how to take it is as wide as the Karoo itself and then we enter the world of dietary lifestyle and supplementation (queue another post) that’s needed. Gluten free, diary free, egg free, no processed food, eat 5 times a day, eat 3 times a day, you have to go AIP, intermitted fasting, keto, no green veg, lots of vegetables including green veg, be careful of nightshades (huh?) and all you want is a good glass of wine in a cabin far away from everything, everyone without any Wi-Fi.

Take a breath, breathe in deep and exhale it all. Firstly, yes all of this is exhaustingly overwhelming (and draining you of that little bit of energy you have left), you are not going crazy and most important… you are not alone in all of this. With the lack of statistics in South Africa I had a look at some international stats. 5% of the US population is diagnosed with hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and many more going through life undiagnosed – that is over 20 million people in the US alone struggling with thyroid problems and it seems to be increasing at an exponential rate.

Is there light in this tunnel? My thyroid was removed in 2019 due to cancer yet looking back at the last 10 years I can now see that there was a lot of small tell-tales that lead up to the “aliens” invading my thyroid. My rollercoaster thyroid journey has been in motion for almost 10 years (I’m 36, turning 37 in 2 weeks) starting off slow and sure has taking some dips and turns and spins for sure. Accepting this journey has been an uphill battle for me and what works for one person does not necessarily work for the next – so it’s not as easy as taking a tablet daily an hour before food for the rest of your life.

Not everyone will understand and that’s also fine, those who do – keep them close. I’ve learnt to take it day by day, not feeling guilty for having a bad day or deciding to rather have a selfcare day than meeting society standards. I get to be grateful for walks in nature, a drive next to the coast with music blasting and me trying to upstage the artist, soaking up the sun, not depriving myself of anything and eat that iced cinnamon bun when its all I can think about. It’s about finding my balance but most importantly learning to listen to my body, realizing when there is a change in how I function or how I feel and to take action sooner rather than later because it’s easier to fix it early on.

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